In Support of the Women’s Health Protection Act

by Nancy Lilley

On Monday, May 2nd, Politico published a leaked Supreme Court majority opinion that explicitly overturns Roe v. Wade. This is decision would reverse nearly 50 years of precedent and explicitly end federal constitutional protections for abortion. Thirteen states, Arkansas, Idaho, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, and Wyoming, have “trigger” laws that would automatically ban abortion in the first and second trimesters if the landmark case Roe v. Wade were overturned. While Pennsylvania is not a state that has a trigger law, the people in our community and across the country deserve the power and freedom to make their own personal reproductive health care decisions.

The YWCA Gettysburg & Adams County joins with YWCA USA in asking for and encouraging your support for the Women’s Health Protection Act of 2021 (S. 4132). I urge you to read the full text of this act and not simply focus on what you might think it says. The most resonating line of the act, for me, is “Reproductive Justice is a human right that can and will be achieved when all people, regardless of actual or perceived race, color, national origin, immigration status, sex (including gender identity, sex stereotyping, or sexual orientation), age, or disability status have the economic, social, and political power and resources to define and make decisions about their bodies, health, sexuality, families, and communities in all areas of their lives, with dignity and self-determination.”

Between January 1 – May 5, 2022, lawmakers across 31 states have introduced 86 abortion bans. This is more than an issue of abortion; we are facing an overall reproductive health crisis. Restrictions to abortion access also result in limiting access to basic well-women services: contraceptives, screenings for cervical cancer, and sexually transmitted infection testing. The Women’s Health Protection Act seeks to ensure all individuals have access to these vital health services.

Equal access to safe, legal abortion care is the right of all persons to determine their own lives. Abortion access is also essential to the social and economic equality and reproductive autonomy. The continued onslaught of state-level abortion bans and restrictions have erected significant and sometimes insurmountable challenges to receiving basic health services including abortion care. These bans disproportionately affect women of color, LGBTQ persons, young women, immigrants, low-income people, and others who have difficulty accessing reproductive health services.

That is why I personally join with YWCA USA in calling for the passage of the Women’s Health Protection Act of 2021 (S. 4132) when it reaches the floor. The Women’s Health Protection Act protects the right to access abortion services free from burdensome and often medically unnecessary restrictions, including mandatory ultrasounds, waiting periods, biased counseling, and irrelevant medical testing. The bill also protects providers, ensuring everyone has continued access to safe abortion care.

Every person faces a set of unique life circumstances and potential challenges. They must be empowered to make their own decisions based on their personal values, the advice of the medical professionals they trust, and what is right for their family. Every person has the constitutional right to make decisions regarding their reproductive health, and the Women’s Health Protection Act is a step towards protecting these fundamental freedoms.

When asked for my opinion on this issue, I think of this quote from a recent article I read, “ I can hold my own moral views about abortion and still trust a woman and her family to make this decision for themselves.”

Nancy Lilley is Advocacy Director at YWCA Gettysburg & Adams County. You may reach her at gro.grubsyttegacwy@yelliln or 717.334.9171 x115

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